Are my neighbour's buildings legal? What now?
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
We recently received an e-mail from a reader seeking advice about possible illegal buildings on a neighbour's property.
"If the municipality fails to answer my questions/investigate and reply to whether or not the four flats and a house built on my neighbour's property, which is zoned for single residential, are built within the law, who else can I contact?
There is a main house and four flats on the property that are let out to five different tenants
Please can you be so kind as to advise me on where I can get assistance."
Les provided the following advice:
There is probably only one path to follow but using two approaches. The friendly one and then the legal one.
The first port of call is to make an appointment to see the Head of the Building Department to find out if there are any plans approved for what has been built.
If there are no plans, ascertain whether they are prepared to take the appropriate action to rectify the situation and make the owner comply with the local Zoning scheme.
If there is no action taken or if you are being stonewalled, then the next port of call is the Municipal Manager, after that, the Mayor and then after that, your local Ward Councillor.
The local authorities have an obligation to uphold the Municipal regulations and by-laws and procedures. If they fail in this duty then it becomes a legal issue and you can take them on through the legal system. In all cases, set them deadlines for answers and times when you will return to see them again.From the time that you start with your enquiry at the municipality, be sure to document names, places, times and what was spoken, questions asked and answers given, plus what you saw on the approved plans and any other information regarding your case so that you have an accurate record of the whole process.
You may even want to take someone with you as a witness. If this does not produce any results then your only option would be to take legal action and then your records will come in quite handy.
If there is any mismanagement within the municipality, then attempts are sure to be made to cover things up which is why such a record is important. I say this because of a previous case that I dealt with where bribes were taken and a huge cover-up was made and the person lost in the end because no records were kept on who said what, etc.
I hope that you find this helpful.
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 April 2012 )